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What American Voters Believe About<BR>Firearm Owners' Rights And Hunting

Friday, January 16, 2004

The highly respected research firm Zogby International has conducted the first installment of its 2004 Zogby Values Poll, surveying 1,200 voters nationwide on issues that included firearms and hunting issues. Working with the Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University and the O'Leary Report, Zogby's questions interestingly examine differences in thinking between people living in the states that voted for George Bush in 2000 (Red states) and Al Gore (Blue states).

Voters were asked: "Do you agree or disagree that American firearm manufacturers who sell a legal product that is not defective should be allowed to be sued if a criminal uses their products in a crime?"

Voters in both Red and Blue states strongly oppose such lawsuits—74% of the former and 72% of the latter. In fact, a majority in every demographic group opposed the lawsuits; the most strongly opposed, at 83%, were current members of the military and their families.

The survey also examined how Americans feel about Right-to-Carry laws, with the pollster asking: "Currently 36 states have laws that allow residents to qualify for a permit to carry a firearm to protect themselves if they pass a background check, if they participate in firearms training and pay a fee to cover administrative costs. Do you feel this is a good law or a bad law?"

Voters overwhelming favor these self-protection laws by a margin of 79% to 18%. Right-to-Carry drew better than 70% support in every demographic group, with even non-gun owners indicating their backing by 73% to 23%.

The survey also asked: "Which of the following two statements regarding gun control comes closer to your own opinion? Statement A: There needs to be new and tougher gun control legislation to help in the fight against gun crime; Statement B: There are enough laws on the books. What is needed is better enforcement of current laws regarding gun control."

By a better than two-to-one margin—66% to 31%—voters nationwide agreed with Statement B. Only self-identified liberals called for more laws, by a 53% to 44% margin. Moderates solidly favored better enforcement, 62% to 34%.

Voters were asked: "Do you agree the NRA is right to fight gun control on both the federal and state levels?" NRA's support stood at 64%, with a party affiliation breakdown showed Democrats siding with NRA 54% to 42% and Republicans 73% to 22%.

Voters were also asked about hunting: "Which of the follow statements comes closer to your opinion? Statement A: Killing wild animals for food or sport is an American tradition and an essential part of wildlife management. Statement B: Hunting is a cruel sport and should be outlawed." Statement A was chosesn by of 92% of gun owners and 73% of non-gun owners.

The survey also addressed wildlife overpopulation, asking: "Some states in America are being overrun with growing populations of deer, bear, or wolves. When this happens, which of the following do you feel is the best option to take? 1) The state should lengthen hunting seasons; 2) Non-lethal methods of control should be used; 3) People should learn to live with wildlife."

Lengthening hunting seasons was the overwhelming response, chosen by 61% of the voters, while only 18% said use non-lethal methods, and 16% opted for coexistence.

The entire 2004 Zogby Values Poll can be found at www.olearyreport.com.

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